A creamy, smoky spread adds a flavorful touch to these impossibly easy chipotle chicken quesadillas. Not too spicy, this customizable recipe makes great use of rotisserie or leftover cooked chicken for a hit the whole family will love.
Quesadillas are at the top of my list of dinners to make when we have a little of this and a little of that on the leftovers front, without any real idea of how to put them together. It’s amazing how well random proteins and vegetables can come together when combined with cheese and heated in a folded tortilla.
Usually this means quesadillas in my house happen fairly haphazardly, but since using easy chipotle aioli in a quesadilla last year, I make sure to always have a batch made when quesadillas are looking likely on the menu.
These chipotle chicken quesadillas (named for chipotle peppers in adobo, not the fast casual restaurant) feature a creamy, smoky, and not too spicy sauce that combines with chicken, black beans, melty cheese, and more in the BEST way.
If you’re looking for a simple flavor bump you can add to a basic recipe, this is the one.
Chipotle chicken quesadillas (and, I mean, quesadillas in general) are a very forgiving food to make. There are many ways to make it your own, including switching up the types of ingredients used, wiggle room with quantities, etc. Think of this recipe as a solid suggestion and feel free to deviate as you like.
Tortillas: The larger the tortilla, the better for quesadillas. This allows sufficient room for spreading the filling so the tortilla has an easier time of folding over itself. My pick is to use 10-inch diameter flour tortillas, often described as “burrito-size” on the packaging. While the kind used in these pictures is regular wheat, I also like to use whole wheat tortillas when I can find them.
Chipotle aioli: Linked in the recipe card, “easy” is in the recipe title as it uses a shortcut and starts with mayonnaise, so there’s no messing around with raw egg yolks. This aioli provides a wonderful smoky, spiced flavor that pairs up with the cheese perfectly. While other recipes chop up and add chipotle peppers directly in the filling, I prefer adding the chipotle in the form of a spread like aioli as the creaminess tempers the spice level. Light mayo works great for this one.
Chicken: Making a batch of chipotle chicken quesadillas is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken or a rotisserie chicken. Of course you can always cook chicken breasts from raw, and I’ve included a simple oven-baked way in the recipe card below.
Cheese: Lots of opportunity to pick your favorite flavors! Cheddar, monterey/colby/pepper jacks, Oaxaca, etc. Basically any meltable cheese that meshes with southwestern flavors would work. If possible I’d go for shredding my own cheese over buying a pre-shredded bag, as pre-shredded cheese often contains anti-clumping agents that can hinder a full creamy melt.
Everything else: While not main ingredients, black beans, diced onion, chopped green onions and/or fresh cilantro work well as complements here. This is an easy category for wiggle room as none of these are essential.
How to make chipotle chicken quesadillas
Quesadillas don’t exactly require a handbook to make, but there are a few tips that make the process easier.
First, spread the chipotle aioli all over the tortilla, but add the cheese, chicken, and other filling ingredients to one side only. While making a quesadilla with two whole tortillas (like a sandwich) can work for a simple cheese one, once you add chicken and other things to the filling it can turn into a big mess when slicing/eating.
Folding a tortilla not only helps the filling stay in while it’s cooking and being flipped, it also gives you an assist while eating, as two wedges have a folded edge. This has become my go-to method.
I prefer to use a small amount of olive oil over cooking spray when cooking quesadillas as I find it helps crisp the tortillas even more. For a 10-inch diameter pan, add about three-quarters of a teaspoon of olive oil (or neutral-tasting cooking oil of your choice) and carefully use a brush or spatula to spread it over the bottom of the pan. It doesn’t look like a lot, but you want just enough oil to cover the bottom without any excess pooling.
Start with a low-medium stovetop temperature. Cooking these chipotle chicken quesadillas at too high a temperature will lead to the tortillas becoming too browned before the cheese gets a chance to thoroughly melt throughout. Lower and slower is the way to go.
And as for slicing them once they’re cooked? Love multi-purposing a pizza wheel.
If the spiced-up, creamy, and/or cheesy elements of these chipotle chicken quesadillas really appeal to you, you may also like to check out these recipes:
Tortillas, chicken, spice, and cheese? Check, check, check, and check. Buffalo chicken tortilla pie is another favorite in my house. Chicken, wing sauce, and cheese are stacked between tortillas and baked for a comfort food-style dinner made for busy weeknights.
For the serious cheese lovers! This chipotle beef queso dip is a party show-stopper packed with flavor. One great thing about this recipe is that it comes together in a small slow cooker, meaning it stays creamy and warm all throughout a gathering.
Adding chipotle peppers in adobo to homemade hummus is such an easy way to provide a whole ton of flavor to a classic dip. This chipotle hummus has options for varying spice levels to make this one yours.
For a big swerve cuisine-wise, Italian sausage quesadillas are also a huge hit. This one is loaded with Italian flavors like mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and fresh basil.
- While there’s certainly space for you to do your own thing and mix up the ingredients here, (try to!) resist the urge to load up your quesadilla with a ton more fillings. It makes it messy and difficult to fold and maneuver around the pan as it cooks.
Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas
- 4 10-inch flour tortillas (usually "burrito size")
- 6 tbsp chipotle aioli
- 2 cups shredded cheese see notes for recommendations
- 2 cups cooked and shredded/chopped chicken
- ½ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup canned black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 - 2 green onions diced (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- ¾ tsp olive oil for cooking
- Make one batch of chipotle aioli, linked in the ingredients section. This recipe for four quesadillas will use up most of it, but you'll have some leftover.
- Lay four tortillas flat and evenly spread about 1 ½ tablespoons of chipotle aioli onto the entire surface of each one.
- Next evenly sprinkle ½-cup shredded cheese onto one half of each tortilla. Onto each of the cheese halves scatter ½-cup of chicken, two tablespoons of diced onion, one tablespoon of black beans, and sliced green onion and/or chopped cilantro, if using. The quantities of each ingredient don't have to be ultra precise. Fold each tortilla in half to close and press gently.
- Add ¾ teaspoon olive oil to a 10"-diameter pan set over low-medium heat. Swirl the oil around (or spread it with a brush or spatula) so that it covers the whole bottom. You can add a little extra oil if you need, but you just want for the surface area to be covered just enough.
- Once the pan is heated, place two folded quesadillas in the pan, arranging them with the folded sides in the center so they fit following the pan's shape. Cook until the bottom side of the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown, then flip and cook until the other side has crisped up as well. Remove from the pan and slice each into wedges (a pizza wheel makes this easy). Repeat for the remaining two quesadillas and serve immediately.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.